It’s been a busy time for PCs Made Simple, after winning a ‘Top of the Shops’ award and receiving an accreditation with Microsoft. Jade Burke speaks to founder Clifford Johnson and finds out about the indie’s ‘cuddles’ service…
How and when did the business begin?
My brother and me had been doing what we’re doing now since time began, and it came to the point where I had so many friends and family asking for our support and advice in the evenings, we thought let’s just give it a go – and formed the company in 2006.
What services and products do you offer in store?
Products wise we sell the usual screens, keyboards, mice, gaming equipment and the usual peripherals.
We have annual servicing, and we normally call them ‘cuddles’. It comes across quite friendly that we’re just going to give it a quick cuddle, and it always brings a smile to a customers face. One of the charities we also support is Streetwise – a safety centre to teach kids, and we’ve dubbed it the System Builder’s Workshop.
Tell us a bit about your cloud services?
We work very closely with a sister company of ours called Simply Backup, and we’re very proud of this because it’s truly unlimited. From the actual hosted desktop kind of cloud services, we don’t get much call for it, but we can provide hosted desktops and virtual servers. Other managed services include the MAXfocus suite, with patch and maintenance and monitoring.
What kind of work do you do with schools?
We help schools quite a lot with cloud services, and their broadband connectivity as well. We do enjoy working with schools, and an introduction we had with a private school a while ago prompted us to become accredited with Microsoft. It allows us to offer more, and it’s amazing how cheap Microsoft sells its software to schools. And we can pass on the benefit of our knowledge, and new skills we’ve learnt, by saving them literally thousands of pounds.
You were the winner of the ‘Top of the Shops’ award, Poole, for customer service in 2013. How did that feel?
It was just amazing. It was all done on a whim. When you find out 300 other shops are in the running, we didn’t think we’d get there. But we won through on our personality, our advice and our jargon busting analogies basically.
What are your thoughts on the migration from Windows Server 2003? Are there any opportunities or challenges for you?
The biggest worry is Microsoft removing the small business server. Because the small business server with up to 75 users was the perfect platform for any medium sized business and it is sensibly priced. The second challenge is getting users to spend the money. That will create plenty of opportunities because we can now contact all the people that we look after.
What are your plans for the future?
Last year was a bit of a stale year for us, we had problems with the shop with water damage and all the plans for growth last year had to stop.
But we’re back on track now, so our end goal is to be able to get to anyone in Dorset within an hour. So that strategically means we need five shops across the whole of the county to be able to provide an almost ambulant service to local businesses.
Year established: 2006
Number of stores: 1
Number of staff: 6
Address: 312 Ashley Road, Poole
Telephone: 01202 830121